Post Diablo suggestions lacking

September 24, 2016
Gordon Mullin

Gordon Mullin

OPINION by GORDON MULLIN

After reading the extensive opinion piece by the Tribune’s editorial board, “Seeking economic help post-Diablo Canyon,” I was struck not so much with the suggestions proffered but by the absence of any proposals that will, in fact, work.

The Trib’s litany of suggestions to alleviate the economic impact of the closure of Diablo Canyon boils down to this- ‘somebody give us money.’ Oddly, heading the list of possible donors is none other than PG&E, the very entity that just got pushed out of the business of supplying carbon free, nuclear energy to Californians.

And, no surprise here, the other source the Trib wants to squeeze is taxpayers.

First the Trib recommends, “Don’t get hung up on conducting surveys, running focus groups and preparing elaborate economic development plans. Don’t waste time or money on fancy reports that will sit on the shelf.”

True, stacks of reports will not, in themselves, generate additional jobs- except for report writers- but from time to time we can find useful suggestions if they actually get read. Our very own Economic Vitality Corporation has several studies sitting on the shelf, presumably unread, that address this very issue.

Next up is “lobby for development funds that can be used to offer incentives,” read, taxpayer dollars used to bribe businesses to set up shop here. This is based on the belief that government can spend your money more wisely than you can; a misguided fallacy that refuses to die despite ample evidence to the contrary.

Then comes the suggestion to explore “the possibility of using Diablo Canyon desalination plant to supply water.” We all know PG&E was OK with the idea at one point but that was before they got run out of town. I suspect there’s a correlation here.

The Trib does acknowledge that PG&E “has offered $49.5 million to local government agencies to make up for tax revenues losses” and “$350 million to employee retention, retraining and severance” and a “verbal commitment to continue its current level of contributions to nonprofits, through 2025” but obviously, that ain’t enough. We want more, or at least the Trib does.

Then comes the fuzzy stuff: “Network with other ‘nuclear communities’ that have lost” their plants, “especially on legislation” that, in short, would seek taxpayers’ dollars. The Trib evidently feels that the communities that encourage the closing of nuclear plants should be compensated for diminished tax flows that follow on their decisions. We obviously don’t like the outcomes of these actions and wish to avoid the consequences. Several of my grandchildren feel this way.

The Trib further bemoans the fact that “the federal government has no assistance program for communities that lose a power plant.” Good. Why taxpayers should give money to government agencies that experience a diminished tax base due to actions of other government agencies eludes me.

There are other suggestions but we can put them all in the ‘taxpayers should give more money to government agencies which then gives it away’ file. We know that government has a poor track record in this department and I fail to understand why this taxpayer giveaway should be the default solution to ‘fix’ economic downturns.

And then, just in case you thought there was insufficient hallucinogens in the Trib’s office brownies, they follow on with the ultimate strategy, right out of the 1955 Soviet planner’s handbook: “We urge…. that economic development funds can only be used to develop high-paying positions” and not (sniff) those “entry-level jobs in retail and service industries.”

Consider, if there were actually a live economist, government planner or elected officeholder that could pull off this magic, as opposed to those who claimed to be able to do so, wouldn’t we have heard about this magician and have crowned them king or queen by now?

However, the truth is no one can. There are at any point in time only a handful of these sweet, highly sought after jobs to be had and countless other communities want them too. Now it’s normal for communities to want these high paying, non- polluting, sustainable industries, but wanting isn’t enough. The truth is, markets are far better at making these decisions, not government agencies.

Here’s what actually is within the government’s power and will work.  This list will come as no surprise to anyone who has worked as a manager/owner or has taken a econ 101 class. Businesses are attracted to areas that have low taxes, fewer development costs and minimal regulatory paperwork to wade through. They want assurances that these costs won’t change and, in our state, they need just one other inducement to move to the central coast- low, or at least reasonable housing for their employees and office costs. But we all know this is not found on the Central Coast.

Note, we have several inherent advantages over most communities in North America. You know them. Sun and salt water. We’re surrounded by a physical environment that is so attractive that thousands come here just to soak a bit of it up.  That’s why we have a tourist industry. But alas, these are, as the Trib says, merely entry level service industries; obviously something we don’t want, unless you’re the person that actually wants to have a job, any job.

But our housing costs remain out of sight and we refuse to do the very thing that will change that fact- build more housing. We won’t do it. But we bemoan the consequences of that policy and we delude ourselves that some other magic dust is available, somewhere, somehow.

Finally, here’s one other response that could be implemented by those agencies most impacted by the demise of Diablo. It’s the same response that the majority of households encounter from time to time. When incomes drop, cut costs. Imagine that? What if government agencies actually had to rethink their priorities because there’s less revenue? Households do it all the time and governments should too.

So let us acknowledge that the loss of revenue from Diablo Canyon is substantial and will affect us. But we’ll live through it and we’ll do that better, with less collective distress, if we align our expectations with reality from the start.


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billygatez

I really do not understand such retaliation against people in favor of the plant. It is not nuclear physics to understand this energy source, its by products, its required materials, its history is a completely unsafe and unethical one. We have solar, we have turbine, and a slew of other options, watch your T.E.D or read your popsci. Yes, employees there were paid well for the risk involved to their health, i.e; discharged isotopes into water and air. But really, its old, unsafe, on a dual fault line. Times do change, jobs move away or things change, look at our current economy, its globalized. But to say its safe, is practically criminal. Solar farms do not need armed guards. Yes, solar has downfalls, as its made of also toxic materials. But solar cells last, what 75 years loosing 15% efficiency. Taking blood soaked money to boost a temporary county; or radioactive money, isn’t right just because its easy. Let us not forget the history to acquire this energy source, and the scientists whom helped. I also read, cancer rates in this county have increased through a watch group, i believe Cal Coast posted it. Did japan serve as no reminder that there is no safe nuclear energy essentially. Especially Diablo, ironic name, extremely antiquated in its operation functions, built before modern science of nuclear energy. Sorry for the very highly paid, and compensated employees. The sky is not going to fall when it closes, but it will stop raining “fall out”.


billygatez

Shart, ignorant atm, i meant….sigh, i dont understand people who retaliate to its closure*..doh


ruinitforeveryone

Build more housing? That’s a great idea if not for that pesky problem of WATER! Hey maybe diablo canyon can desalinate us some water.


Mitch C

I object to the $50 million that PGE plans to give to SLO government agencies. This money is from the ratepayers. Why not give the $50 million to the ratepayers in the form, of rebates. Local governments have more than sufficient funds, they just need to spend it more frugality and wisely.


abigchocoholic

Why do you keep saying the “Trib” this, the “Trib” that? Papers don’t suggest. Authors suggest. You are purposely trying to be disrespectful aren’t you. That you keep calling it the “Trib” and putting down the “Trib” is very irritating. It’s as if you are incredibly juvenile and jealous of a bigger paper.


Oh ya, did you have something to say in your piece? Because I never got passed your name calling of the “Trib”.


dgmullin

May I answer your question. I’ve lived in this community for over 40 years and the “Trib” is nothing more than shorthand for The Tribune. Indeed we called it that even back when it was the Telegram Tribune. It’s not positive nor negative.

You’re correct in saying “papers don’t suggest” however editorial boards do. See my first paragraph.

I hope this clarifies the matter for you.


Gordon Mullin


r0y

The “trib” puts itself down; it has for years. The problem with that paper, like most other news agencies, is they actually start believing their own propaganda and slants… I see this everywhere, places that are too homogeneous will actually believe they are the majority or correct or what have you. It’s a simple mistake, but it is often made when there are no people left to keep one ideology or belief in check.


I mean, it’s one thing to obfuscate and withhold information to build or perpetuate a narrative, it is quite another thing to actually start believing it.


kettle

The Trib has no choice if it wants the captains of industry, chamber and pol partys to keep the $ flowing.


Indy thinker

Once the switch is turned off, very few permanent PGE workers will be around and needed. Only essential radiological and security positions will be retained. The main group of electrical maintenance workers, mechanical maintenance workers and clerical staff (roughly 75% of diablo positions) will be gone. Most are already brushing off their resumes for eastern US nuke jobs. PGE will hire an outside company to bring in THEIR workers to do the demo work. Call this like it is and stop sugar coating this shit sandwich… those reactors shut down the money stops and the jobs are gone.


SLOBIRD

This does not only impact government, but you can rest assured that non-profits, fundraising, County Security Programs, and so many community clubs, organizations and benefits have strongly been supported by PGE and personally, I am OK with this. PGE is not giving there money to all this, they are giving the rate user’s money. We are PGE and it is our rates in that pay for all this stuff.


Remember what your Mom taught you: NOTHING IS FREE! SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE IS PAYING FOR YOUR FREEBIE….


rukidding

Diablo will be shutting down in 2025 not closing. It will take another 10-15 years if not more to neutralize the plant. Per the internet there are currently 1200 jobs, most have been offered significant bonus packages to stay onboard for at least the next 4 years at Diablo and you might assume they will stay in place until 2025 after that there will probably be a reduction in jobs. The local cities have currently invested hundreds of thousand dollars to be involve with the PUC hearings. Where is the transparency with the cost of this action to the taxayers? It’s obvious that their main concern is not the possibility of job loses in the next 10-20 years or the impact to some local businesses. Any money that may be diverted from PG&E to the local environment will go directly to the government entities and not the private sector. How else is government going to maintain their country club lifestyle. And should PG&E not step up to the plate we the taxpayers will be burden for the needs of government.


boljebitipijannegostar

There are significantly more jobs at Diablo than the permanent PG&E positions, sometimes double the permanent positions. The bonus does not apply to these. The plant went online in the mid eighties, so many employees have been retiring, and more will be the near future. If they signed the retention agreement and leave before four years they have no loss, if they stay they potentially get the bonus. Your assumption about people staying until 2025 is wrong. There will be very few long time employees staying beyond the next four years. By the way the retention agreement has not been approved by the PUC yet . Really who cares, We want it shut down anyway, as it seems the local community does not care about it and even SLO mayor (shkërdhat e qelbur) thinks it will be a good thing to close it. The Mayor has worked for government entities her whole life, so I don’t expect her to think otherwise. There will be much less non essential maintenance and projects done. Actually, reductions have already started to non essential personnel. It is not 10 – 20 years from now. It is happening today. All of the organizations that were biting the hand that fed them for many years will have no one to bite and no one to feed them.


Laughlines

Hey, I was starting to pick up some Albanian when I was over in Kosovo! Didn’t get too far, but I tried to practice when I would get out to Pristina or wherever. Haven’t run across anyone here who’s from that region.


SLOBIRD

Our government on all levels has become so greedy that there is never enough in the trough. Our local governments will be getting $49.5 million to be divided by them all from PGE and a cost to the taxpayers. Not sure how Diablo has impacted Paso or Atascadero but that’s OK to be on the list I guess. The cities, County and the biggest, schools, have 10 years to figure out how to get off the gravy train that they all helped to end and have cried wolf for years! Now, they can all earn their money for once in a hoest issue and figure out how to solve this long range issue. Don’t spend all your money on consultants, lobbyist, and other political pundits because no matter how much you get you will have spent it before it is in the bank and then you will be coming to the taxpayers for more.


CURRENT ISSUE:

You are currently asking the taxpayers to pay the same GAS TAX THREE TIMES: I fill up at the pump pay this tax for roads, I buy anything in any city in this County and it costs me 1/2 cent more for roads, and now with Measure J you want me to pay 1/2% more for the same damn roads except Measure J will allocate 25% to roads, 25% to alternate transportation (buses, carpool vehicles for government employees), 25% for bike paths, trails, etc, and 25% to be used at the discretion of the County. Why did not one City approach the California League of Cities to whom you pay $$$Thousands$$$ to annually to protect issues affecting the Cities of which funding, taxes, etc, should be a high priority. You certainly used then when the State was trying to take property taxes, cigarette taxes, Regional Development, etc. Just because Gov Brown is stealing Road money for his train, illegal immigrants getting free insurance, etc. no one wants to raise a hair on his bald head.


VOTE NO on MEASURE J………..DO NOT VOTE FOR ANY INCUMBENT!


rukidding

Right on! Part of the plan for Measure J funds will be going towards traffic congestion. Already Atascadero has discussed how that money can be diverted to the WalMart blunder that they made over the required Del Rio off ramp roundabout costs. That blunder will eventually cost the taxpayers close to $8,000,000 if not more. Ron DiCarlii, Executive Officer for SLOCOG, stated to the city council that SLOCOG had lostmost of its funding and that the city would be on the hook for $7,000,000. So I hope everyone can see what is going on here. This tax is for wants and not needs.


LOVESLO

And the take away that progressives will never get…


“When incomes drop, cut costs. Imagine that? What if government agencies actually had to rethink their priorities because there’s less revenue? Households do it all the time and governments should too.”


Shocked in MB

This is ridiculous! Hopefully you don’t actually expect the local populace to be willing to suffer because of the idiocy of some of their ideas? (Tongue firmly implanted in cheek).What you have is academia and government people who think that life will continue on as normal because they are so isolated from reality! Unfortunately it is the rest of the “unwashed and uneducated” that will suffer because of the foolishness of many in our local community!